Easter Greetings!


Rev. Dowling was a talented artist , but he was not the only member of his family with artistic talent. This Easter card from his father Edward Francis Dowling, shows that there must be something in the genes that gets passed on from father to son.


When March Madness came to Detroit


The University of Detroit Mercy has hosted a few NCAA basketball tournaments in the past. The first was 1988 and a second time in 1991 where the games were played at the Pontiac Silverdome. There was also a third time at Ford Field in 2008, all as the Midwest Regional Basketball Championships. In 2009, the university was the host at Ford Field for the Final Four where the championship game saw University of North Carolina beat Michigan State. I think that was really hard to take if you consider Ford Field as being the “home court” for Michigan State.

marchm1It was recently reported that Detroit would be the location for the first- and second-round games of the 2018 championship in the yet-to-be-built Detroit Red Wings arena. There was no mention as to what school would host the event, but I am sure University of Detroit Mercy would be more than happy to lend their expertise and experience with past basketball tournaments and host the event.

Northland Shopping Mall, Now Just a Memory


Its the end of an era-Northland Shopping Center is no more. The last company will be out in April, but the memories will last forever for all the long-time Detroit area residents. As a child, our family would sometimes make a trip to Northland after church, have some lunch and go window shopping through the mall. If I remember it right-stores were not open on Sundays back in those days. To take a trip through memory lane, here is a listing of the stores from one of the items we have in the library Michigan Core Collection:


Libraries aren’t for just books anymore! Game On!


Looking for something to do at the library?


UDMercy Libraries/IDS is hosting a Video Game Night on Friday, March 13th from 6-9:00 PM. Games planned include: Halo:Master Chief Collection, Blur, Call of Duty:Advanced Warfare, Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, and the ever popular Wii Sports.



This year we have something different! A demo of Oculus Rift. This device will let you feel like you are in a 3D virtual world. You can look up, down, side-to-side, even behind you. WARNING-if you are prone to motion sickness, you might want to pass on the demo. This is just the developers kit (DK2), the consumer version is not expected until 2016. In anticipation of the demand to view the demo, you have to be a UDM student and time on the device may be limited for only a few minutes.


You don’t have to play any of the games-you can just watch. Just watching how people react to the Oculus Rift might be worth the time (we will NOT let people stand when they have the headset on!)-check out the video.

FREE pizza and pop will be available. Come join the fun!


McNichols Library Dedication, November 11, 1950

dedic2“What’s in the new University of Detroit Library besides 125,000 books? According to the Very Rev. Father Celestin Steiner, S.J., University president, there’s everything including the kitchen sink.” That was how the press release began with the announcement of a formal dedication of the library November 11, 1950. As the highlight of the University of Detroit’s homecoming week, the one million dollar library was dedicated by Edward Cardinal Mooney, archbishop of Detroit.


When the library first opened, the stacks were closed. Students would place their request for a book at the circulation desk on the main floor where a pneumatic tube would shoot the request up to another floor for another student or staff person to send the book down via the dumbwaiter. You can still see remnants of those on the upper floors, but they don’t work anymore. Initially, the library housed a 300 seat theatre, recording studio and microfilm unit on the third floor; all that has gone away for various reasons, but we still have the kitchen sink in the staff lounge!


Construction of the McNichols Library 1949-1950


Groundbreaking June 11, 1949, Fr. Millor and Elmer Smith with shovel, Fr. Poetker, at right

Construction on the million-dollar McNichols Library began with the June 11, 1949 ground breaking ceremony. Aside from the outdoor patio added by the Class of 2010, not a lot has changed on the exterior of the library building. See my previous post to see some of the changes made in the interior of the building. Here are some of the pictures as it was being built.

First excavation June 27, 1949


Foundation & footings in place July 18, 1949


Up to second floor September 19, 1949


3rd floor being poured, October 13, 1949


November 8, 1949


December 8, 1949


February 25, 1950

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National Shrine of the Little Flower named a Minor Basilica

shrinef1Pope Francis has bestowed the title of “basilica” upon the National Shrine of the Little Flower Catholic Church, its inaugural mass as a basilica will be celebrated April 22, 2015. The designation of basilica is in recognition of its robust parish life, which includes eight weekend masses, and its stature as a destination site with relics from various Catholic figures, including its namesake St. Therese of Lisieux (Detroit Free Press Feb 1, 2015).


The church’s first pastor was the Rev. Charles Coughlin in 1926. That year he also began his radio broadcast to raise money to build the parish complex. His radio speeches were very popular, but they gradually became very political to the point that his radical viewpoints and anti-Semitic themes were too controversial for church leaders and under pressure from the National Association of Broadcasters his radio broadcasts ended. You can listen to more than 60 broadcasts from 1938-40 posted on the library Special Collections page on “An Historical Exploration of Father Charles E. Coughlin’s Influence“.

Also on the page you will find digital images of Social Justice, the newspaper published by Father Coughlin from 1936-1942. Social Justice also came under fire for its pro-Axis propaganda and eventually had to shut down as well.


“On the improvement of the mind”, Elizabeth Jennings, 1837, Address to African American Women Abolitionist


The University of Detroit Mercy has a large collection of documents in the Black Abolitionist Archive that can be searched on the library web page. You can find the text of over a thousand speeches and editorials from the 1820′s to the Civil War on the site, some of which you can also listen to on an audio file.

It is not possible to list everything in the collection, so periodically there is a request to find something in the collection that is not posted. A research request came in looking for a speech by Elizabeth Jennings made at a meeting on the anniversary of the Ladies of the Literary Society, an African American women abolitionist organization, in New York City in September 1837. In honor of Black History Month, I am posting the article I found from Colored American, September 23, 1837. The microfilm copy will be hard to read, so I have transcribed the text for easier reading. It is a speech that is just as relevant now as it was back then.


“…It is now a momentous time that calls us to exert all our powers and among the many of them, the mind is the greatest, and great care should be taken to improve it with diligence. We should cultivate those powers and dispositions of the mind which may prove advantageous to us. It is impossible to attain to that sphere for which we were created, without persevering. It is certain we were formed for society..and it is our duty and interest to cultivate social qualities and dispositions-to endeavor to make ourselves useful and pleasingĀ  to others-to promote and encourage their happiness-to cherish the friendly affections, that we may find in them the source of the greatest blessings the world can afford.

But alas, society too often exhibits a far different scene, and this is in consequence of neglect of cultivation, which certainly is much more fatal than we can imagine. Neglect will plunge us into deeper degradation, and keep us groveling in the dust, while our enemies will rejoice and say, we do not believe they (colored people) have any minds; if they have, they are unsuceptible of improvement. My sisters, allow me to ask the question, shall we bring this reproach on ourselves! ..Doubtless you answer NO, we will strive to avoid it. But hark! methinks I hear the well known voice of Abigail A. Matthews saying you can avoid it. Why sleep thus? Awake and slumber no more–rise, put on your armor, ye daughters of America, and stand forth in the field of improvement. You can all do some good, and if you do but a little it will increase in time. The mind is powerful, and by its efforts your influence may be as near perfection as that of those which have extended over kingdoms, and is applauded by thousands.

Let us accord with that voice which we may hear urging us and resolve to adorn our minds with a moreĀ  abundant supply of those gems for which we have united ourselves-nor let us ever think any occasion, too trifling for our best endeavors. It is by constant aiming at perfection in every thing, that we may at length attain it.”

A well traveled road to civil rights

parksThe Library of Congress display of Rosa Park‘s personal documents, photographs and keepsakes became available recently to the public. Park’s refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on Dec. 1, 1955 was a key event in the civil rights movement.

Do a search through the Black Abolitionist Archive and you will find documents of similar treatments almost a hundred years earlier. Here are a couple of news reports from Black Abolitionist newspapers:


Sad to think it took so long and an act of Congress, to treat a fellow human being as an equal. Race relations have gotten better, but we still have a long way to go.

1926 Merry-Ann: A UD Light Opera

merry1“Merry-Ann” was the first musical production by the UD Student Union. The book and lyrics were by Seniors James Pooler Silas and P. Ralph Miller. The story, told in two scenes and ten acts, is a love triangle with Merry-Ann the center of attention between an old childhood friend and the son of a wealthy philanthropist who decided to give the girl a higher education. Of course, complications arise (as well as a secondary romance about another couple), but who Merry-Ann ends up with is not disclosed in any of the articles that I have read. (My guess is that the childhood friend wins in the end.)

There were 371 applicants for a part in the stage production (more than 30 for the title role of Merry-Ann), and all the roles were played by male students. There were some women students attending the university, but the plan must have been for all the female roles to be played by male students.


All the actors and musicians involved with the play were students of the university. The only professionals involved were the director, John Harwood, and the choreographer Max Scheck, both of whom had extensive experience on Broadway productions.

The production was staged at the Shubert-Detroit Theatre at a cost of either $15,000 (two reports) or $25,000 (one report), but in any case, while there were huge crowds in attendance and it was critically acclaimed, it was not a financial success. A few more musicals were produced (including Aces Wild), but the financial strain was too much, so Fr. McNichols, then President of UD, decided the opera should be temporarily abandoned. I guess that’s “Show Biz”


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